Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Fa l l 2 0 1 8 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 29 Seeding Change Men at Work W hen Astad Dhunjisha was 12, his family moved back to his native India from Bahrain, where his father held a position in fi- nance. Returning to his homeland was a culture shock. "Even though I am Indian, I didn't know how to fit in," says the global talent director for Monsanto. "I was unsure of myself, and it took a while to find a friend circle. at time of my life still stays with me, and I have thought a lot about that in terms of cross-country integration throughout my career." Dhunjisha was basically describing a childhood example of what we now call inclusion. Today, he is responsible for just that for more than 20,000 Monsanto em- ployees in the United States and 69 coun- tries. His childhood experience—and the tools and empathy it engendered—has proven to be valuable in his 15 years at the Fortune 500 agricultural and biotech giant. After graduating from the London School of Economics with a master's in industrial relations and then working in banking in India, Dhunjisha joined Mon- santo India in 2005 as the company's hu- man resource lead for its business units there. He quickly moved up the human resources leadership chain, relocating to the United States in 2009 and taking on increasingly larger roles across different business units. He became the company's chief diversity officer in 2015 and in 2017 was promoted to vice president of HR— global lead, talent acquisition. He contin- ues to serve as chief diversity officer. "I often think about my journey and how it relates to my work," he says. "Peo- ple approach D&I from multiple angles. I approach it from my personal experi- ence. I think that my experience—feeling like an outsider when I was young—has helped me relate to all sorts of people and understand how important inclusion is in the business environment." Diversity Woman: What are some of the expectations and challenges around implementing D&I in an agricultural company? Astad Dhunjisha: What is unique about Monsanto is that the field of agriculture is not generally seen as the most progres- sive area, particularly when it comes to diversity and inclusion. We do an exercise in our training in which we ask people to close their eyes and think of the image when they hear the word farmer. Most people think of a middle-aged white guy We Mean Business > Astad Dhunjisha, CDO of Monsanto, talks to Diversity Woman about the challenges—and the advantages—of practicing D&I in the global agricultural industry by Antonia Hernandez

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